McCabe eyes another term as less-is-more senator Incumbent seeks to check growth of government

May 31, 1998|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

State Sen. Christopher J. McCabe considers himself something of a minimalist, as politicians go.

The 42-year-old Ellicott City Republican says he's not eager to start programs or pass laws, the accomplishments that are traditionally the stuff of politics. He says he'd rather see government do less.

"What I primarily try to do down in Annapolis is be an advocate for families," says McCabe, a father of three. "Keeping the growth in size of state government in check is important to families because it means there's less pressure to raise taxes."

Today, the two-term incumbent kicks off his re-election campaign with a $50-per-person fund raiser at the home of a friend in Highland.

Unopposed in the primary, he is likely to face first-time candidate Democrat David S. Hantman, also unopposed, in the general election. A moderate Democrat, Hantman calls McCabe too conservative for the 14th District, which includes western Howard and northeast Montgomery County.

After eight years in office, McCabe might be difficult to beat. He won with about 55 percent of the vote in 1994.

McCabe is a development officer for Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine.

He may be best known as a fierce opponent of expanded gambling in the state, including slot machines.

He introduced a bill in 1995 to create a state sentencing commission to review criminal sentencing and corrections policy. He also has sponsored adoption reforms as an outgrowth of his anti-abortion stance.

In addition, he has pushed for ethics reforms such as limiting political action committee contributions to legislators and limiting the gifts and meals lobbyists can buy for legislators.

McCabe says his job is not just to pass bills.

"All too often, legislators believe that if there's a problem, the [solution] is another law," McCabe says.

McCabe has not always adhered to his minimalist philosophy.

In 1994, after Howard County schools Superintendent Michael E. Hickey drew fire for transferring a school's top administrators, McCabe introduced a bill to limit Hickey's transfer powers.

McCabe withdrew the bill after using it to persuade educators to reform transfer policies.

McCabe says he felt a responsibility to get involved, though, he adds, he never meant the bill to become law. He says he believes the state should be careful not to meddle in local school issues.

Pub Date: 5/31/98

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